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VAT refund confusion of expat moving out of UK

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I am an expat who transferred to the UK last year. Thanks to the market turmoil, I am transferring to Singapore at the end of March. The complication is that I will be travelling within Europe for three weeks, on vacation, and will leave most of my belongings with the moving service my company has contracted with.

I indulged myself and made a few trips to St. James and Jermyn Street immediately before Christmas and during the January sales. Since I actually live in London, I have not yet claimed VAT refunds, and was going to ask the moving service to do this for me before they ship out my belongings.

After several e-mail exchanges with the service and a call to UK customs, it seems that the service will not attempt to collect my VAT refunds unless the items are in their original store packaging, unused. Further, since I will not be travelling with my belongings, I was told that I can only invoke the indirect export exception, where I can reclaim VAT if I reexport unused items outside the UK during the third month after purchase (in other words, from what I understand, if I purchased something anytime between January 1 to 31, I have until the end of March to ship the items and claim the refund).

If I am right about the deadline, it means I have to physically ship the items out of the EU before the end of March. Taking them along somehow during my European trip will not be an option because I will be leaving the EU in April, not March.

I am completely confused and was wondering if anyone here has encountered this situation.

1) Am I right about the customs deadline, or is the deadline 90 days after purchase or similar?

2) Would it make more sense to ship my VAT refundable purchases to Singapore separately? I am worried that these would then be prime customs bait.

3) Would it make more sense to ship my belongings earlier, so that hopefully it becomes clear that the VAT refundable purchases (which are really personal belongings that should not be subject to import duties for someone relocating from abroad) are part of someone's household items?

4) Has anyone relied on a shipping agent to claim VAT refunds, and if so, how does one make sure it does not result in a cock up?

Thank you in advance.
 

Marjo

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Hi, I'm having the same problemm! My container already left the UK and the items where bought in mid april. Where you able to claim the VAT?

Thanks!
 

Nicola

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EU residents can't claim VAT refunds. It's for tourists not residents.
 

brokentelephone

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EU residents can't claim VAT refunds. It's for tourists not residents.

Untrue -- if leaving, you can reclaim VAT on anything you've purchased in the final 3 months of residence.

I've had mega-problems with VAT issues -- you're going to need to call VAT/Duties a few times to get a straight answer as about 75% of the people there don't have a fucking clue in the world on how everything works.

PM me and I'll send you an email address of someone who dealt with my claim directly. Hopefully they can help.
 

GBR

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Why do people come to this site seeking advice on VAT when they are moving? Surely there are more appropriate forums where current knowledge will be available?
 

New Shoes1

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Why do people come to this site seeking advice on VAT when they are moving? Surely there are more appropriate forums where current knowledge will be available?
Because they enjoy getting a rise out of the forum's resident grouch.
 

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